EDITORIAL: The Summer The Beastie Boys Changed My Life

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This afternoon the world learned that Adam Yauch, otherwise known as MCA of legendary hiphop act Beastie Boys, passed away at the age of forty-eight. I never met Adam, nor knew anyone who did, but he impacted my life forever and I will never forget the time spent enjoying the art he created with Mike D, Mix Master Mike, and Ad Roc.

It was the Summer of 1998 and my parents had recently informed me that we would soon be moving from the only home I had ever known in a tiny Ohio town to an almost equally unnoticeable village in Southwest Michigan as a result of my father’s company being bought out by a corporation whose name is unimportant. I was nine, just months from ten, and had already developed a strong passion for music as my lack of siblings had lent itself to many hours spent playing alone as the radio announcer’s rambled about local events between top 40 songs of varying genres (my mother prefers country, but my father has always had a fondness for rock).

While I’m still not sure how it happened, I convinced my parents to purchase two albums for me just before we began the moving process, which involved nearly two weeks of constant trips between our new and current homes for paperwork, processing, and the transportation of belongings. The first of those records, Metallica’s Garage Days, came censored with that irritating “bleep” noise covering all profanities and questionable phrases. This was an issue I was familiar with as my parents were the kind to buy censored albums as a way of better justifying letting a nine-year-old hear mainstream entertainment, but it was also something that annoyed me (and still does) to no end, so my interest soon began to wain when the sound of anything but the second disc’s cover of “Turn The Page” would begin. The second record, Beastie Boys’ Hello Nasty, had somehow missed the critics and been released sans parental advisory labels, which meant my young ears (and youthful addiction to things I was pretty sure my parents told me not to do/experience) quickly fell in love with each and every beat, verse, and moment of what seemed at the time like a completely unique listening experience.

It would be arrogant on my part to try and claim my young self as being aware of the impact such an album would have on my life, but I like to think some part of me knew the addiction I had for Hello Nasty was something different than, say, the way I felt about Saturday morning cartoons. I do know that I played the record every day, from beginning to end, nearly every day of that summer, with at least two spins on days we had to travel. “Intergalactic” was my early favorite, likely from seeing the video on MTV’s Total Request Live while spending time with my mother after school during the week, but soon began to find myself spending more time on deeper cuts, like “Song For The Man” or the raw live sound of “Three Mc’s And One DJ.” I likely wasn’t aware of it at the time, but it was this addiction to experiencing and understanding every corner of a record that would eventually lead me to discover Blink-182’s Enema Of The State, an album I have always cited as being the one that made me dedicate my life to music.

I will admit that it has been a few years since I gave Hello Nasty a proper spin, but my love of Beastie Boys’ music has not faded in the slightest. The addiction sparked by “Intergalactic” and its video filled with dancing robots has turned into a lifelong mission to discover and share music with the masses that I have (somehow) become fortunate to do for a living. Had it not been for Hello Nasty and that Summer spent displaced, it is very likely my life would have taken a different course altogether. I may never find the words or opportunity to properly thank the Beastie Boys for their music, but I will forever be thankful for their art.

Written by: James Shotwell (Twitter)

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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